Ferndale School Board approves $125 million bond for Feb. ballot


FERNDALE - Residents of Ferndale School District will have a chance to vote for a $125 million bond to rebuild Ferndale High School, after the school board approved the bond to go on the Feb. 11 ballot.

Board member Hugh Foulke abstained from the vote at the meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, because he wanted the board to consider waiting to float the bond until the economy had rebounded. He thought increasing taxes during a stagnant economy would be a difficult sell.

"I'm not going to stand in the way, but I don't feel a groundswell of support for this," he said. "It seems sudden."

He said he was "staggered by the size" of the $125 million bond, which would pay to rebuild Ferndale High, move the district's maintenance and transportation facility to the Mountain View Elementary property, and remodel a space for Windward High School at either North Bellingham Elementary or Mountain View.

For some community members who attended a forum about the bond on Dec. 12, the size of the bond was a stumbling block, along with the significant tax increase that would come with it.

If approved, the bond would increase property taxes by up to $1.72 per $1,000 of a home's assessed value. That means the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay an additional $344 in property taxes each year.

At the board's meeting Tuesday, board President Lee Anne Riddle said she wanted to put the bond on the ballot so the community could decide for themselves. She acknowledged that while she doesn't want to pay more taxes, she would rather pay more to see students in a school that is safer and better suited to modern learning.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read her School Days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or follow her on Twitter at @bhamschools.

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